GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – A four-point programme, if implemented, could change the seemingly endless housing shortage in Geneva, says Avenir Suisse, a Swiss think tank, in a study published 28 August.
Urban area housing shortages are a Swiss preoccupation, says the group in a press release, but nowhere is it more so than in Geneva, where the shortage cannot be blamed on foreigners, for example.
Rather, it is a problem of Geneva’s own making, with insistence by political leaders on imposing a “fair price” for land and rents, resulting in a system that discourages building and a healthy real estate market.
Avenir Suisse argues in Une pénurie fait maison for the following changes:
- Free up prices and tax revenues: by abandoning the notion of a fair price to allow the market to determine prices, construction will be encouraged by giving investors real incentives and over-use of land and built-up space will be discouraged. There is no question, however, of abandoning the needy: a heavier tax on revenues from real estate would provide the means for a better targeted, low income housing policy.
- Get rid of the constraints on construction and renovation by getting rid of the LDTR, Geneva’s law covering demolition, transformation and renovation. Free up agricultural land, build higher by allowing construction that is already permitted by the law.
- Adapt the rules of the game by limiting help for buildings and increasing help for people: discuss at the level of cantonal planning the key changes needed, reward through tax incentives the communes that build and reform rental agreement laws.
- Unblock construction in the city by encouraging mega-projects such as the PAV (Praille Acacias Vernets), Pointe de la Jonction and Sécheron-Gare Cornavin.